Divorce is an unfortunate and, sadly, common occurrence in today’s society and can be incredibly stressful. Brown Dahan understands the impact of this life-changing decision. We put our advocacy skills to work to ease your burden and work toward resolving your case as quickly,
as cost effectively, and as favorably as possible.
Once the reality of a divorce becomes clear to either you or your spouse, the first step after talking with a qualified divorce attorney is filing a petition for dissolution of marriage with the Superior Court. The spouse who is filing must have been a resident of California for six months and a resident of Orange County for three months prior to the filing of the Petition.
Under California law, there is a six-month mandatory waiting period after the Petition is served on your spouse before you are able to return to the status of being single. This means that you cannot remarry or file taxes separately during this time and until the Courts have granted a Dissolution of Marriage. After this period has passed, you will be eligible to request that your marital status legally be changed to an unmarried person.
The initial petition for dissolution must specify reasons for the divorce, but California is a no-fault divorce state. This means the court may grant a divorce for any reason and does not require the spouses to state a reason for divorcing. No party gains any advantage over the other even if, for example, one party was unfaithful during the marriage.
An uncontested divorce is one where the parties are in agreement with all issues pertaining to their Dissolution of Marriage. On the other hand, if either party is not in agreement with such issues as child custody, spousal support, and/or division of assets, it is considered a contested divorce. In any contested divorce situation, it's often best to seek legal counsel who can assist in navigating the complex nuances of dealing with all issues relevant to a divorce. This is where Brown Dahan can be of great assistance.
1. Initial Meeting With Your Lawyer - Determination of which process to follow: traditional, mediation, or collaborative.
2. Petition Prepared and Filed - You work with your attorney and team to file for divorce. Once the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage has been served on the other spouse, that spouse has 30 days to file a Response.
If the petition is not filed and served within 30 days, the Petitioner may file a Request for Default whereby they may file a Judgment based on their preferences alone as to how they wish all issues to be resolved.
3. To Settle or Not - Start discussion for an amicable settlement.
4. Settlement Discussions - Discussion between attorneys on areas of agreement/disagreement.
5. Discovery - If necessary, the parties will engage in a process known as Discovery whereby they prepare questionnaires, interrogatories, and depositions. This is where demands are made on either party to produce any and all documents pertaining to any property that is subject to the divorce case.
6. Hire Experts - A forensic accountant, CPA, or Appraiser will be called on to evaluate community property.
7. Preliminary Financial Disclosure - Each party files a financial disclosure form under penalty of perjury. If the Respondent files a Response, the parties exchange Declarations of Disclosure which list all property they currently own as well as any debts owed. These disclosures are mandated by law.
Should any party fail to disclose property which they are aware of, they could be sanctioned and be required to give the other party the full value of the asset when and if it is discovered at a later time. Any orders that may have been entered regarding the property division may be vacated as well if it is later determined that there were undisclosed assets. Settlement negotiations typically begin after all discovery has been exchanged between the parties.
8. Mutual Requests - Before trial, temporary orders for child custody, child visitation, child support, and spousal support are among the orders typically requested to sustain the parties and the status quo until the case can go to trial. The vehicle by which these orders are obtained is known as a Request For Order or RFO.
9. Final Financial Disclosures - Each party files its Final Financial Disclosures forms.
10. Voluntary Settlement Conference - The parties decide that they would like to settle instead of going to trial and incurring more attorneys’ fees. If a resolution is reached on all issues, a Judgment is prepared and filed with the Court. Often, the parties never have to visit a courtroom during a Dissolution of Marriage.
11(a). The Parties Settle - The parties settle. No one gets exactly what they want but everyone wins!
11(b). No Settlement - Trial Setting - The parties request a date where the attorneys participate in a trial-setting conference. If a resolution is unable to be reached, then the attorneys will prepare necessary documents to request orders from the Court.
12. MSC - MSC is the Mandatory Settlement Conference ordered by the court. As the parties prepare for trial, the Court will set the case for an MSC. At this hearing, all parties will report to Court with their attorneys and attempt to settle all issues before the case is set for trial. If necessary, the judicial officer will attempt to assist the parties in coming to a full resolution of all issues. A full Judgment or partial Judgment can be entered at that time. Any and all remaining issues will be set to be heard at trial.
13(a). Another Chance to Settle - The parties settle. No one gets exactly what they expect, but everyone wins!
13(b). No Settlement - Attorneys report to the Court that there is no settlement. The Judge sets a trial date.
14. Continuances - The Orange County Family Law Court System is overwhelmed by pending cases and/or the attorneys have court appearance conflicts on specific dates.
15. Trial Starts - Attorneys may require many days for your trial.
16(a). Parties Settle - Parties settle before the start of trial, during the trial, or after the trial and before the court judgement.
16(b). Case Is Decided - The court makes a judgment based on the evidence presented by the attorneys, the witnesses, and the experts.
Focus on the challenging aspects of restructuring your family while we ensure you get the support you deserve
Prepare a plan for the children's living accommodations and how to divide their time between parents
Secure your children's future and well-being by ensuring they are supported financially
Modify prior orders as straightforwardly as possible, and get honest assessments of whether changes would be worthwhile